Kenilworth residents prepare 'to do battle' with Warwick District Council over leisure centre expansion plans

People living near Castle Farm leisure centre are concerned that the plans to not provide sufficient vehicle access to the site and parking or mitigate the potential for increased traffic in the area

Residents attend a meeting in 2017 to discuss the expansion plan for Castle Farm leisure centre in Kenilworth.

Residents living near the Castle Farm leisure centre in Kenilworth are 'prepared to do battle' with Warwick District Council over its plan to expand the site which will go before a committee next week.

The expansion plan - which includes an improved gym, three dance studios, six badminton courts and improved scouts and guides headquarters - was first put forward by the council several years ago but residents are convinced that the proposals are flawed and particularly that the traffic access and parking studies are "based on incorrect information".

The Castle Farm Kenilworth Neighbour Group has said: "Despite the admission that, 'The proposed development represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt, which should be offered significant weight' Warwick District Council (WDC) presses on.

"There are hundreds of comments on the planning portal along with Kenilworth Town Council's objections logged.

"A working party that represent many of the local residents have girded their loins for the fight and submitted detailed technical objections.

"Residents have been trying hard to get WDC to listen to concerns for several years.

"Meetings and consultations have been held and still residents are convinced that the plans are flawed and particularly the traffic access and parking studies are based on incorrect information.

"There are also concerns that increasing the footprint of the current leisure centre to three times its current size along with providing only 40 per cent of the parking required (as defined by WDC'S Parking Standards SPD 2018) to serve a facility of its proposed larger size.

"This will mean the loss of Green Belt and the removal of public access to green open recreational space.

The group also has concerns that the move and expansion of Kenilworth Wardens Cricket Club to a field neighbouring the leisure centre will cause further traffic issues.

It has said: "Residents feel that because both of these are large scale developments, and will be sharing the same roads and access, adding considerably to increased traffic, they should be jointly considered.

"Promises were made that leisure centre 'improvement' plans and Wardens plans would be jointly considered due to the relevance of the impact of the facility development on the neighbouring area.

"Despite talk of mitigation there is still no other access proposed than through a 1960s residential estate with narrow roads some only 4.5 metres wide, that already have schools and nurseries in place with children playing, skating and cycling.

"Fears for highway safety are paramount among residents.

"There is no public transport and cycle access is poor to this site.

"Considering the high volume of car use in Warwickshire and the current use to access the leisure centre, the provision seems wholly inadequate for the size of the development plans.

“The majority of people understood the need to revamp the sports facilities.

"“However, there are still major concerns about the extent of development and the impact this will have, particularly retaining access to current public land and sufficient parking on site to minimise the impact on neighbouring roads.

“The location of access roads is the key concern."

In August last year, residents were angered when an online meeting was postponed by the council which was set to cover the issue of vehicle access to the Castle Farm Leisure Centre.At the time a council spokesman said: ""This was due to the discovery of a number of factual inaccuracies in the travel assessment report which was due to be discussed at the meeting, which could have undermined the case that the council is seeking to put forward in support of its leisure development proposals.

"It should be emphasised that the council does not consider that there were inaccuracies with the report’s conclusions."

The plans will go before Warwick District Council's planning committee on Wednesday September 15 from 6pm.